Eight ways to stay healthy and in shape during pregnancy.

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If you’re pregnant, you’re probably thinking about your health more than you ever have, and everyone—friends, family, doctors, nutritionists and even strangers—has a piece of advice. So let’s simplify and help you feel great during your pregnancy. Make sure you check with your doctor before changing your routine, though. Every woman is different and should have their doctor approve their diet and exercise routines.  

1. Chiropractic Care 

Your body changes rapidly during pregnancy, and these changes can do a number on your spine, back muscles and joints. Chiropractic adjustments can help with the common aches and pains of pregnancy. According to Dr. Scott Levine, a chiropractic doctor at Vita Integrative Health Clinic in Toronto, if your usual stroll becomes more of a waddle during pregnancy, you’re likely experiencing tightness in your joints. “One to two adjustments can help the sacrum open up and fix that waddle. It’s unlocking the locked joints,” says Dr. Levine. Besides the physical changes that pregnancy brings on in the body, stress may also contribute to discomfort. “Most people think of stress as an emotion, but it’s physical, too,” says Dr. Levine. Chiropractic treatments can address the physical manifestations of stress. Many chiropractors have prenatal training, so look for one who has experience with pregnant patients.

2. Weight Training 15 05 25 EightWays 1

Lifting weights during pregnancy can offer the same benefits it does at any other time: strong muscles and bones. Stick to lighter weights and increase your reps. Avoid machines that put pressure on your belly, and always listen to your body. The focus should be maintenance, not dramatic changes.

3. Herbs

Pregnancy is, no doubt, a wonderful time, but it does come with its share of discomfort. If you’re looking to treat common complaints like nausea or an upset stomach, a naturopathic doctor can recommend natural remedies. Dr. Chris Pickrell, a naturopathic doctor at The Herbal Clinic Dispensary in Toronto, recommends ginger tea or candied ginger to soothe digestive problems. “It’s the anti-inflammatory properties and warming and soothing properties of ginger that help with the symptoms,” says Dr. Pickrell. If you’re going to brew ginger tea, Dr. Pickrell suggests steeping it for 20 to 25 minutes to optimize the benefits. “This is what turns pleasure tea into effective medicine.”

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4. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids help with baby’s brain and tissue development. Fish is a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, and Health Canada recommends eating at least 150 grams of fish each week during pregnancy. If you don’t like fish, try a fish oil supplement instead. But look for the Natural Product Number (NPN) on the package. This ensures that the product has been checked for things like pesticides and toxins and has been deemed safe for use during pregnancy.

5. Prenatal Massage

Like a regular massage, a prenatal massage aims to relax sore muscles and improve circulation and mobility. Massage therapists can specialize in prenatal massage, so ask for someone who knows how to tailor their techniques to pregnant bodies. During the massage, you may lie facedown on a table with hollowed-out areas for your breasts and stomach, or you may want to lie on your side, propped up by pillows. You should always communicate with your therapist. If you’re experiencing any discomfort, let them know so they can change your position or adjust their technique.

6. Eat a Well Balanced Diet 15 05 25 EightWays 3

Nutrition is a major component of overall health for you and your baby. Folic acid and iron are important nutrients during pregnancy. According to Health Canada, folic acid helps prevent neural tube defects like spina bifida. Your iron intake can reduce your baby’s chances of having an iron deficiency, and you’re likely to feel less fatigued during pregnancy if you’re getting the right amounts. Folic acid is found in beans, lentils and leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale, but you’ll want to boost your diet with a multivitamin containing 0.4 milligrams of folic acid. Beans, red meat, eggs and poultry are good sources of iron, but again Health Canada recommends a multivitamin with 16 to 20 milligrams of iron.

7. Prenatal Yoga 15 05 27 EightWays 8

The body changes drastically during pregnancy. As your pregnant belliy expands, your lower back curves to support the added weight. As the baby grows, your hips get tighter because they are supporting the uterus. As your breasts swell, tension in your upper back and shoulders increases. Address these pains with a prenatal yoga class. If you’re not comfortable practising in public, try a DVD at home and no one will see you stumble during tree pose. Incorporate deep breathing or meditation and you’ll be not only stretching your
muscles but also be quieting
your mind.

8. Cut Down on Your Workouts

This may sound counterintuitive, but managing the time you spend working out is better than not working out at all. Be realistic and match your own energy levels. Go for a short walk instead of going to the gym if you’re tired. Over time, your energy levels may increase, actually allowing you to work out more often.